9 maps to understand the Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine territory

9 maps to understand the Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine territory

Organisation: Rue89 Strasbourg (France)

Publication Date: 04/01/2016

Size of team/newsroom:small

Description

In January 2016, the three former French regions of Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne and Lorraine have merged in one. In december 2015, we covered the recent election which set up a new regional council with an accurate map of the new "Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine" region. We knew that a bigger territory involved many tendencies, and we wanted to analyze them with a data investigation. We wanted to accurately highlight the many differencies between reduced areas of this big territory, and then explain these differences. So we took different results of the december election and mapped them very precisely at communal scale. We coded nine maps to represent right, left, far right, far left, but also smaller parties like the regionalist or ecologist. We also created a map to check if there was in the region a perfect three-party government situation, a topic very discussed nationally with these elections, knowing that France is often described as a bipartisan country. These interactive maps, completed with academics records, gave us an accurate overview of the political landscape of this new territory and a very specific analysis on Rue89 Strasbourg's website.

What makes this project innovative? What was its impact?

In french local newspapers' websites, data-investigations are still rare. Technically, we recycled an application we developed to cover the last regional elections in order to make our nine maps. Not only addressed the case of classic electoral cartography, we also used powerful statisticals tool to make our own original maps. For example, we asked ourselves "how to check this theory of three-party government situation between right, left and far right ?". Then, we reasoned with deciles to answer : if we had this perfect situation, the upper third of each party would be alone, without any competition with the two others thrids. It would be like a perfect puzzle divided by three, with black pieces on a side, blue pieces on the other, and red pieces on the last. Obviously, things were more complicated than that, so we finally tried to ask to the question "why is it more complicated ?". Sometimes, a city was divided between the upper thirds of right and far right, and sometimes none of them were strong. These kind of reasoning with supposition is still very uncommon in french local newspaper newsroom. More technically, we used deciles in a systematic way for our electoral maps, because it was for us the best way to compare the maps. With this method, we could determine very quickly if the 10% of cities which voted more far right are the 10% of cities which more abstened too.

Technologies used for this project:

All the mapped data were stored on a Google Spreadsheet, then we used a PHP parser to transform it for the map. We used D3js, an extremely popular Javascript library, for coding the map. We prepared several options to make the exploration easier, as a zoom to see the cities with more precision, or the apparition of subprefectures when this option was activated. The devil is in the detail, so we also used very specific tools to customize the nine maps. For example, we used ColorBrewer to determine very harmonious color ranges.
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